Staging refers to the assessment of the degree or the extent of the lung cancer. The three main factors that are considered in each stage are the size and location of the tumor, the presence or absence of lymph node involvement and whether the cancer has metastasized. Staging plays an important part in the prognosis and plan of the treatment. There are four Lung Cancer Stages:
1. Stage I is the earliest stage and has the highest cure rates. In this stage, the tumor is confined to the affected lung. The most frequent symptom is a change in the quality of cough in which most people frequently ignore. As a consequence, the cancer is diagnosed in its late stage.
2. In stages II and III, the cancer is within the chest. However, the tumor in stage III is more invasive than in stage II.
3. Stage IV has metastasized to other areas and generally has poor prognosis. The most common sites of metastases are the other lung lymph nodes, bone, brain, adrenal glands and liver.
Lung cancer develops first within the lung and the tracheo-bronchial tree. Since the lung is highly vascular, cancer is more likely to metastasize to other areas. It typically spreads to the nearby lymph nodes which then crosses the midline. The other lung may be affected. Lung cancer can also spread to other organs through vascular or lympathic routes. At any given stage, x-ray, PET scan and CT scan may provide lung cancer pictures.
Lung cancer affects primarily those who are between the ages 40 to 70. Over the years, its incidence in men reached a steady decline while it continues to rise in women. It is accounted for more than 28% of cancer related deaths. It is responsible for an estimated 1.3 million deaths worldwide annually. Compared with other cancers, lung cancer generally has lower survival rates. Lung cancer statistics shows that there is only 15% survival rate for lung cancer compared to 99% for prostate cancer, 88% for breast cancer and 63% for colon cancer. An alarming rate of approximately 84% of the patients dies within five years of lung cancer diagnosis. At the time of diagnosis, the disease usually reached higher Lung Cancer Stages and has metastasized by way of venous circulation or lymphatic spread.